The growth of the Additive Manufacturing industry has yielded some exciting advancements in manufacturing. As AM is more widely adopted it is imperative that trust in AM parts is proven and retained. Having rigorous verification and validation processes in place will help ensure the quality of AM parts and maintain customer trust in AM technologies.
Verification is a process whereby objective evidence is used to demonstrate that a product is designed and manufactured according to its specifications and is free of defects. We are asking, “Did we build this thing correctly?”. Verification is a prerequisite for validation.
AM verification processes and techniques primarily focus on analyzing the post-manufactured object. Popular AM verification methods are X-ray technology, which can validate the internal geometry, and CT scanning, which quickly and accurately verify the internal and external geometry. CT scan results are then analyzed by creating a dataset and comparing it against a CAD file. This nondestructive x-ray technology is also capable of identifying internal cracks and porosity between the intersections of resins in multi-material printed parts. A CT scan offers a much higher level of detail than X-ray. Newer in-process verification methods focus on monitoring the print as it’s happening. These in-process monitoring techniques can utilize acoustics, visual and/or mechanical sensors. The collected data can then be visually inspected as well as digitally compared to the intended specifications. While these verification methods are an important part of verification and validation, there is a piece missing. When a part fails verification testing, we want to know why. While machine operations, machine parameters, design, material or user error may be to blame; however, we also need to assess whether any outside actor introduced a fault through cyber-enabled access.
Continuous cyber monitoring detects compliance and security risk issues in real-time. Through this continuous monitoring, sabotage to AM prints can be detected before going through expensive verification processes such as CT scanning. Continuous monitoring of cyber activity related to AM is especially important in applications where critical parts are being manufactured and also where national security could be at risk. In March 2022, The White House released a statement prioritizing the strengthening of cybersecurity defenses and improving the security of widely used technology in order to prepare our Nation for cyber threats. With BISON, continuous monitoring processes reconstruct the G-Code transmitted over the wire and compares that to the original, trusted file and identifies deviations. If deviations occur, AM operators will have insight into any malicious cyber activity that has occurred.